Human trafficking is a constantly changing and evolving organized criminal activity. It is therefore extremely difficult for practitioners and government agencies to stay updated on new methods and networks from traffickers. This often leaves us steps behind. It is imperative that those working in the anti-trafficking field not only track these trends and changes, but also share our knowledge, observations, and case developments with relevant stakeholders. It is through this pro-active collaboration that we can alleviate this crime and protect more victims from being trafficked.
Human Trafficking is a worldwide crime that particularly is being carried out in South East Asia. With different push factors, Cambodia is one of the main transit countries in South-East Asia. Women, men and children are trafficked and tricked into slavery every day to perform inhumane work in various industries such as fishing, prostitution, forced marriage and factory labor. Human trafficking is a well-organized crime that develops like every other crime or field. The image of human trafficking changes and we often identify new trends or areas. We all need to keep up with this ongoing development if we want to fight human trafficking.
"How effective are volunteers?"
Last year we had the opportunity to take a look at one of the aspects of international work that comes up a lot. We got to look at a very interesting question: How effective are volunteers? and how is their work perceived by those who live and work in the countries where they go to volunteer?
Chab Dai took its first steps as an organisation in 2005, when the coalition’s first staff came on board. Helen recounted Chab Dai’s first hires, including Chab Dai’s current National Director Ros Yeng: “I had sent out a number of ads for someone to apply for the position of national coordinator, because from the beginning I had a five-year plan to hand over leadership...
No successful movement or organisation is without its challenges and setbacks. These setbacks were indeed plentiful in the early stages of Chab Dai’s formation, and stalled the founding group of small organisations’ joint proposal for over six months.
After a number of roadblocks and disappointments, our founder Helen Sworn had a dream about continuing with the coalition, and approached the group of small organisations again. “We couldn’t directly fund any of the small organisations, but what we said we’d do was focus on training, resources, advocacy and development of a coalition. It was difficult telling the small organisations we couldn’t fund them, but they still expressed interest in what we were planning to do”.
The context of Chab Dai’s origins is fascinating and extensive, dating back to 1999, when there were a just “a few faith based organisations and some other UN lead agencies who first saw the emergence of human trafficking”. Human trafficking was indeed an issue that was just coming to light, and few organisations had tangible knowledge on the phenomenon.
“The early responders were those already on the ground who were doing related work but not direct work”, something that illustrates how interconnectedness with other social issues is a core element of trafficking. Helen was one of these early responders, first coming across the phenomenon while working on a baseline research with a team in Poipet, on the Thai/Cambodia border, with children who had been deported from Thailand.
Charlie Dittmeier estimates that there’s around 51,000 profoundly deaf people living in Cambodia. “And we’ve worked with only around 2,000 of those since we started in 1997,” he says.
Charlie works for the Deaf Development Programme here in Cambodia, run by global Catholic mission organisation, Maryknoll. They educate over-16s and young adults, teach them Cambodian sign language, give them vocational training, keep a registry for the deaf and perhaps most importantly of all, help them to feel part of a community.
The problem is, there isn’t really such a thing as a deaf community in Cambodia. Often those still out there on their own won’t know what’s happened to them, why they can’t communicate with others, or that there are others just like them.
In 2010, a unique piece of research began at Chab Dai – one that would enable survivors of human trafficking to tell their own stories about reintegrating into the community. As we continue to look back on some of the achievements we’ve been most proud of, we catch up with Lim Vanntheary, Project Manager for The Butterfly Longitudinal Study.
A field-based research project, the Butterfly Team conduct interviews with both male and female participants who have received some form of assistance or care after experiences with sexual exploitation or trafficking. Participants might have spent time in a shelter, foster home or received community assistance training. Over the course of ten years, the same 128 participants are interviewed to understand their feelings about (re)integrating into the community, work and family relationships.
We’ve been selecting and training Community Heroes from all over Cambodia since 2011, watching as they go on to train other members of their community on how to protect their family from traffickers, raise awareness about abuse and educate on human rights. As part of our anniversary series celebrating Chab Dai’s achievements, we talked to Nop Sen, Project Manager for the Community Heroes team.
Sen won a scholarship to study an ABA in English Literature with Asia HRDC before working in administration and human resources. He came to the Chab Dai via the then-called Doorsteps Project (now Charter-Doorsteps) and now decides budgets, coordinates activities and prepares crucial reports for the Community Heroes Team.
The Learning Community project is a definitive part of the Chab Dai programme, being the core of all our coalition-building events, key member trainings and collaboration activities. But since #10yearsofChabDai is all about highlighting the projects and people who have been fundamental to our vision, it seemed like a good opportunity to check in with the LC and its current Project Manager, Um Sam Ol.
Sam Ol started at Chab Dai as a Media and Communications intern in 2010 and, five years later, oversees the member application process, the resource library and our bi-annual member meetings, as well as key trainings for our member NGOs.